PGA Tour eliminates 15-year requirement to earn lifetime membership
PGA Tour

PGA Tour eliminates 15-year requirement to earn lifetime membership

A picture of golfer Rory McIlroy


Did you know the PGA Tour offers a lifetime membership to players who win at least 20 times in their careers?

It's true, and it's a great perk for players who have accomplished so much in their careers that the Tour feels they have earned the right to no longer be concerned with how they can maintain status later in their careers.

However, there had been a caveat to when players earned PGA Tour lifetime status. In order to claim that lifetime status, a player had to complete 15 seasons with full membership. Now, the PGA Tour is making lifetime membership a much simpler proposition.

The PGA Tour has removed the 15-year service requirement for lifetime membership. That means a player like Rory McIlroy, who earned his 20th PGA Tour win at the CJ Cup in 2021, now has lifetime membership available to him.

The perks go beyond having lifetime status on the PGA Tour. A player with lifetime membership is not subject to the PGA Tour's requirement that a player competes in a new event each year to help bolster field strength of other tournaments they don't frequent. The player also doesn't lose their status if they don't play 15 PGA Tour events in a season; they simply lose their voting privileges.

Unfortunately for Dustin Johnson, however, the rule change kicked in after he resigned his PGA Tour membership last year following his move to LIV Golf. Johnson had won his 20th PGA Tour event at the 2019 WGC-Mexico Championship. However, at that time, he had only played 12 seasons on the PGA Tour and needed to complete three more to secure lifetime membership. Now that he is no longer a PGA Tour member, he doesn't receive upgraded status automatically.

For McIlroy, however, his lifetime membership status conflicts somewhat with the realities of still being a popular top player. Since he won money from the PGA Tour's Player Impact Program last year, McIlroy is to compete in the PGA Tour's elevated events for which he is eligible -- that's to say, all of them. The elevated events include the Sentry Tournament of Champions, three elite invitational events (The Genesis Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament), the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play, four rotating PGA Tour events, The Players, the four majors and the FedEx Cup playoffs. In total, a player has to commit to 20 tournaments on the schedule, and they have an out from one elevated event.

Of course, few players in PGA Tour history have even had the opportunity to earn lifetime membership. All told, 39 players have ever won at least 20 times in their careers. No other PGA Tour player under the age of 45 is within four wins of reaching 20 total titles.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

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